2011 was another great year for adventure running with lots of trips to the High Sierra and a couple in the North Cascades of Washington State. It was great to venture into some of the most remote regions in both ranges and see terrain I have never seen. I’m already looking forward to adventures in 2012 but here are some photos and links to full reports from the adventures of this past year. See 2010 recap here.
- Cone Peak “Sea to Sky” - January 29th: Second annual trip from the Big Sur Coast up to 5,155 ft Cone Peak with spectacular views and a redwood canyon. I’ve dreamed of doing this run when there is fresh snow atop Cone Peak so we’ll see if I can get lucky with timing this year.
- Winter Alta Peak – January 31st: Amazing views of the Great Western Divide on this snowshoe trip out of Wolverton in Sequoia National Park.
- Bear Creek Spire & Mount Dade – July 3rd: My second visit to this lovely basin with picturesque alpine lakes and rugged alpine beauty.
- Mount Sill – July 4th: My second time up 14,159 ft Mount Sill, known as the best viewpoint in the High Sierra. The route features a crossing of the Palisade Glacier, largest body of ice remaining in the Sierra Nevada, surrounded by the towering walls of Mount Sill, North Palisade and Thunderbolt Peak.
- Mount Lyell & Mount Maclure – July 9th: Improved my time by 65 minutes to 8:50 roundtrip for the climb of these two peaks that are the roof of Yosemite!
- The Whaleback & Big Wet Meadows – July 23rd: A 50 mile adventure run up Cloud Canyon and Big Wet Meadows to climb Whaleback, one of the most remote spots in the High Sierra. Incredible!
- Primus, Austera & Eldorado – July 30th: Colin Abercrombie and I toured the Eldroado Ice Cap climbing Primus Peak, Austera Peak and Eldorado along the way. We started at 2 am and finished at 5:40 pm for a 15:40 day. It has been since 2005 that we explored the ice cap towards Austera so it was nice to return to this scenically stellar region and explore a new area beyond Austera to the North Klawatti Glacier and Primus Peak.
- West McMillan Spire – August 1st: Awesome climb of this impressive summit in the Southern Pickets in a new FKT of 8:14 roundtrip.
- Northern Yosemite 50 Mile Loop – August 6th: An “instant classic” adventure run of a 50+ mile loop in the remote Northern Yosemite region beginning at Twin Lakes, and including five passes, the Benson Lake riviera and a summit of Volunteer Peak. I’ll definitely be returning to do this one again!
- Milestone & Midway – September 3rd: An adventure run to climb Milestone Mountain (13,641 ft) and Midway Mountain (13,666 ft) along the Great Western Divide, two of the most remote points in the High Sierra. Milestone Creek and Basin are exceptionally scenic with lovely alpine lakes and tarns, polished granite, and the towering peaks of the Great Western Divide.
- TRT-Flume Trail 27 Mile Loop – September 10th: Great 27+ mile loop in the northeast part of Lake Tahoe with nice trails and awesome views.
- Eagle Scout Peak & Kaweah Gap – September 25th: An adventure run to Eagle Scout Peak via Kaweah Gap in 9:38 roundtrip from Crescent Meadows. Eagle Scout Peak is located just south of Kaweah Gap along the Great Western Divide in a remote region of Sequoia National Park. The climb of the 12,000 ft peak entails over 45 miles roundtrip and 8,000+ ft of elevation gain. While it’s a long way just to Kaweah Gap along the High Sierra Trail (21 miles from Crescent Meadow), the scenery is phenomenal and well worth the effort. The sapphire blue of Hamilton Lakes and the towering granite walls of Angel Wings and the Valhallas are truly magnificent.
- Mount Dana – October 16th: A quick climb up this summit near Tioga Pass for early morning light on freshly snow covered peaks of the Yosemite high country.
- Vogelsang Peak – October 16th: The afternoon part after Mount Dana was a climb of Vogelsang, with great trails and nice views.
- Mount Conness via Young Lakes – October 23rd: Another spectacular fall day in the Sierras with an extremely scenic and pleasant climb of Mount Conness via Young Lakes. The route we took is one of the longer approaches to the mountain, but the views of Tuolumne Meadows and gorgeous Young Lakes along the way more than compensated. I did not have any expectations for Young Lakes but they turned out to be one of the highlights of the day and we spent considerable time at the main lower lake both on the trek in and on the way out. New snow on the surrounding cliffs of the Young Lakes cirque added to the beauty and this is a place I will definitely be returning to explore.
- Mount McDuffie & Ladder Lake – October 30th: My favorite adventure run of the year, Ladder Lake along the way to Mount McDuffie is one of the most rugged and wild corners of the High Sierra that I have seen. While the ascent of Mount McDuffie might not be the most aesthetic, the summit provides a magnificent vantage of most of the Palisades, the Ionian Basin, and Le Conte Canyon
Another phenomenal hike on Mount Tam, this time the 8.5 mile Willow Camp-Steep Ravine Loop. In terms of sweeping vistas and stunning scenery, this loop is superior to the Steep Ravine-Matt Davis Loop in my opinion. The reason is because it includes 1.8 miles along the Coastal Trail as it traverses a steep grassy hillside with jaw-dropping views around every corner. Looking down at Stinson Beach nearly 1,800 vertical feet below you literally feel like you’re getting an aerial view. However, the Willow Camp trail back down to Stinson Beach is steep and loose requiring careful attention. Make sure to make many stops since the views of Stinson Beach are spectacular throughout the descent. In addition, the classic Steep Ravine trail, with its wooden ladder, stone steps, numerous bridges, and old growth redwoods was incredibly lush on this day (almost like a jungle) after copious late-season rains. The complete photo album is here.
The West Point Inn sits high on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais with a commanding view of the San Francisco Bay Area. Close by is Mill Valley, Tiburon, and Angel Island. Most of the downtown San Francisco skyline is visible along with one arch of the Golden Gate Bridge beyond the Marin Headlands. The Inn was built in 1904 and since 1943 the West Point Inn Association of volunteers has worked to maintain and remodel this hidden gem. Today the main building and adjacent cabins are available for overnight stays and six times a year a pancake breakfast is served for $10. The public can only reach the inn by fire road or trail via foot or mountain bike. Multiple trailheads provide access to the inn with distances ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 miles. Many more photos here.
On this day, I first joined Jon and Joel for a long run around Mount Tamalpais, including the old growth redwoods in Muir Woods, the Coastal Trail, and the technical single tracks on the north side of the mountain. Appropriately hungry after the long run, we proceeded to the West Point Inn from near Mountain Theater. We enjoyed blueberry pancakes, sausages, and coffee while warming up by the wood fire. Afterwards, we watched the Bay Area “reveal” itself in dramatic fashion as the fog and low clouds lifted and dispersed. Soon enough, sun was shining through with excellent clarity and unique contrast for fun photography (complete album). I look forward to returning to the West Point Inn for future pancake breakfasts, views, and an overnight stay!
Figure-8 long run run route (start at Mountain Theater):
- Easy Grade to Pantoll
- Old Mine Trail
- Ben Johnson
- Alice Eastwood
- Sierra Trail
- Troop 80
- Stapelveldt to Pantoll
- Matt Davis/Coastal Trail
- Laurel Dell Fire Road
- Cataract Trail
- High Marsh Trail
- Kent Trail
- Benstein Trail to Mountain Theater
- Rock Springs Trail to West Point Inn
Yesterday I enjoyed an awesome run on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais with Joel. The weather was spectacular with clear skies and relatively warm temperatures. The hills were vibrant with fresh green grass and multitudes of wildflowers. This combination made for some phenomenal photography opportunities. We started at Pantoll and ran the Coastal Trail/Bolinas Fire Road to the McCurday Trail junction. On the way back, we dropped down to Stinson Beach via the Matt Davis Trail and came up Dipsea/Steep Ravine. The last few miles were on the other side of the ridge into Muir Woods with a loop entailing Stapelveldt, Ben Johnson, Bootjack, and TCC. I estimate this run to be around 30 miles with around 5,500 feet of elevation gain with ~3,000 ft of that coming in the last 8 miles. As usual, Mount Tam delivers an extremely memorable experience and I look forward to returning soon. The complete photo album here.
Many more photos here.
The Tourist Club SF is a sweet destination on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. The German themed chalet is a private club except for limited hours on most weekends. There is a beautiful view overlooking Muir Woods and a selection of German beers are served on tap along with pickles, sausages, and a few other items. It’s a great spot to relax and enjoy the surroundings. You can park fairly close to the Tourist Club but the most aesthetic way to reach it is via a hike from Muir Woods. On this day, we walked the main interpretive trail along Redwood Creek and then took Fern Trail, Lost Trail, Panoramic Trail, and Redwood Trail to reach the chalet. On the way back, we closed the loop by taking the Sun Trail and Dipsea Trail back to the Muir Woods parking area. This route itinerary provided great variety characteristic of Mount Tamalpais, including old growth redwoods, mixed hardwood forest, and wildflower meadowland with views. I’ll definitely be back to the Tourist Club… another great afternoon on Mount Tam! Complete photo album here.
Complete photo album here.